first photos, a reflection by Erin Malone-Smolla

One of my favorite photos thus far was taken towards the end of our first week in Arusha. Our first couple of days were filled with orientation and teacher workshops, where we simply interacted with adults and the idea of working with children seemed like an event far into the future. However, on the first day that we worked at Swifts School I remember pulling up to the school in our bus and seeing children running around in the grass, I immediately got excited. I knew that we were there for a teacher workshop, however, so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to work with the children.

The teacher workshop itself ended up going wonderfully. I remember being a bit nervous before it, but ending the lesson with great satisfaction and happiness with how our photos had turned out. During our last photo shoot we decided to take a picture of different volumes for a science class in the school’s main field, it was at this time the children started to walk over to us curious as to what we were doing. About six children shyly stood back and watched us, however, five minutes I felt a tug on the back of my shirt. An adorable boy with large eyes and a huge smile was motioning for the camera. I quickly gave him a short lesson on how to use it and he was immediately in heaven. He went around taking photos, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen a larger smile in my life.

Maybe this was the first time this little boy had ever used a camera, I have no idea. I asked him if he had ever used one before, but he was lost in his own excitement and barely heard anything I said after I put the camera into his hands. This was my first realization of how our program can have so many different impacts on these children. Not only is it a learning tool, but also a first chance for these kids to be in control of their own creativity, or maybe, for the first time even show it. After the boy had taken about ten photos, he yelled over to one of his peers to show of his new talent. Once his friend came over he explained to him how the use the camera, because he wanted to mix things up and become to subject of the photos instead of being the taker.

This is why I choose this photo because it shows the pure joy of the boy’s first experience with the camera, and my first experience working with the kids and cameras. This photo embodies what I think our program is about. I think this boy’s face says just about everything.

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